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Fierce storms off Cape Horn have scattered Commodore Anson's squadron and sunk the Wager on Chile's rocky coast. The despised captain's callousness soon incites the survivors to drunkenness and mutiny when food stores run low and rum is in surplus. With only their wits and a small band of Indians to guide them, two young men--midshipman Jack Bryon and his friend Tobias Barrow, an alarmingly naive surgeon's mate--survive this harrowing adventure. They forshadow the heroic Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin of the immensely popular series.